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So it turns out all the sky is falling talk about how PVR technology makes it easy for consumers to ignore commercials might be beside the point. People just don’t want to watch commercials, and just because they’re not skipping through them doesn’t mean they’re paying attention.
Researchers at Ball State University’s Center for Media Design report that about viewers interrupt about 45 percent of commercial breaks by changing channels, checking out the electronic program guide, or just getting up and walking out of the room.
Viewers in the study did watch about a third of television commercial breaks completely from start to finish. But with nearly half of the ad breaks were watched for 60 seconds or less. Apparently flipping channels is a favorite way to avoid commercials — about half of those who weren’t paying attention to a commercial break had switched to another channel, while less than 20 percent actually bothered to get up from the couch and go anywhere.